This autumn Trevor Nunn will direct Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon
in a Samuel Beckett play at The Jermyn Street Theatre
With its second major announcement in 3 days, The Jermyn Street Theatre is turning the West End on its head showing that, under Gene David Kirk's Artistic Direction, the little theatre that could most certainly can! With a capacity of a mere 70 this quirky basement theatre has such a fabulous artistic reputation that Trevor Nunn will direct Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon in Samuel Beckett's radio play All That Fall.
Specially commissioned by the BBC as a radio play, when it was first heard on the Third Programme in 1957, All That Fall was immediately and universally acclaimed for its comic and linguistic exuberance. The Times Literary Supplement said of it, "A most impressive and original piece of writing for the ear, comparable in its impact, though not at all in its tone or mood, with Under Milk Wood. The use of language has a rich local flavour; there is a rhetorical zest, a rhythmical extravagance, and a melancholy humour, that recall Synge and O’Casey."
The piece charts the journey of old and unwieldy Mrs Rooney as she drags herself towards a railway station on a Saturday lunchtime to meet her blind husband on his way back from the office to guide him home. Along the way she passes the time of day with a man with a dung cart and a man with a bicycle. A third man with a motor-car offers her a lift and a church-struck spinster helps her up the station steps
Trevor Nunn commented "For many years I have been hoping to present Samuel Beckett’s extraordinary radio play ‘All That Fall’ on stage. The Jermyn Street Theatre is the perfect intimate space for this unique project, as I attempt to recreate the studio circumstances for which the play was written. Most excitingly, this world stage premiere of a little known Beckett masterpiece has attracted the involvement of two world famous actors, Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon, to play the leading parts of Mrs and Mr Rooney. Richly showing Beckett’s connection to O’Casey, the play moves through comedic situations to a conclusion as disturbingly bleak as anything in his writing. My hope is that audiences won’t try to find and read the play beforehand, but come to it as if it is a new work about which they know almost nothing. The impact of this play will then be at its most devastating."
As Gene David Kirk himself said, "This is a quadruple coup for Jermyn Street Theatre. A premier of a play by one of the most influential figures of twentieth century theatre directed by one of the most lauded directors of his generation and starring two of the greatest actors working today. Any one of those ingredients would have been massive for a theatre of our size but to have them together makes us immensely proud and excited. For a tiny auditorium in the heart of Theatreland, surrounded by the West End’s legendary playhouses, this proves that Jermyn Street Theatre carries a punch far above its weight" - for myself, I never doubted it!